The Detroit Lions have gone in heavy on fixing their defense in the 2021 NFL Draft, and they committed to fixing it in a big way on the back end with their final pick of day two.
With pick 101, the Lions grabbed Syracuse cornerback Ifeatu Melifonwu, and some see that selection as a steal for the team. Melifonwu is a talented player who has plenty of the skills that are needed to become a stud at the next level at a position of need for the team.
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On ESPN’s draft coverage, former NFL front office member Louis Riddick broke down the pick and lauded Melifonwu in a big way. He admitted that he sees no reason the player can’t become a star at the next level because he has all the tools to do so.
ESPN's Louis Riddick on Lions third round CB Ifeatu Melifonwu: "There is no reason why this young man shouldn't be a superstar."
"He has all the skill in the world," Riddick said.
— Brad Galli (@BradGalli) May 1, 2021
Obviously, getting Melifonwu to that level is going to be the goal in Detroit, but it’s clear the team needed a cornerback in a big way, so cross that need off the list with Melifonwu. He joins a group with Jeff Okudah and Amani Oruwariye where suddenly, there is some youth and major potential for the future.
Melifonwu Looks Majorly Athletic
The Lions scored a player in Melifonwu who has some impressive numbers and is an athlete much in the vein of their other two selections. At 6-2 with a 4.48 40 yard dash as well as a 41.5″ vertical and a 11’2″ broad jump, it would be hard-pressed to find a player that does more to prove that. Next Gen Stats even had him ranked as a 99 athleticism score.
RD 3 | PICK 101 – Lions: Ifeatu Melifonwu CB, Syracuse
Melifonwu has rare athletic skills for a cornerback his size (6'2" & 205 lbs). The Syracuse DB earned a 99-athleticism score driven by a 1.48-second 10-yard split, 41.5" vertical & 11'2" broad jump at his pro day.#NFLDraft pic.twitter.com/S0hZmV31r7
— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) May 1, 2021
Detroit needs help in their secondary, so getting a player like Melifonwu who has the athletic tools could only help prove Riddick right in the end in terms of his potential. He is the kind of player who could dominate in a big way once he gets into the league and shows his stuff.
Melifonwu Stats and Highlights
If the last name sounds familiar to fans, that’s because Ifeatu’s brother Obi Melifonwu played in the NFL recently as well. The older Melifonwu didn’t have nearly as much success, but that doesn’t mean the younger one can’t be great. Melifonwu has solid size at 6-3 and is the type of player who can be a better cornerback than some of the options that may go higher than him in the NFL Draft. In college, he put up 88 tackles, 3 interceptions, 19 passes defended and 1 sack. Melifowu might end up being one of the better cornerbacks that comes out of this draft process, and the Lions hope they will look smart to have nabbed him given their major needs at cornerback.
Here’s a look at some of Melifonwu’s best highlights:
The clips do show a player who has plenty of ability and could even play a starring role in the future for the Lions as Riddick projects.